Asperger’s Syndrome is one of the Autism Spectrum Disorders, characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction, restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests.
Children with Asperger’s syndrome have poor social interaction, odd speech patterns, obsessions and peculiar mannerisms. They do not have ability to read the body language of others. They engage in routine obsessions with less facial expressions.
Causes- Asperger’s syndrome is a neurological disorder and the causes are not yet understood fully. Research says there seems to be a hereditary component to Asperger’s syndrome, if there is a family history, especially fathers. But no specific gene has been identified yet.
Exposure to teratogens during the first 8 weeks of pregnancy increases the tendency for Asperger’s syndrome in the child. Environmental factors also may play role in causing Asperger’s syndrome.
Signs and Symptoms- The Asperger’s Syndrome manifests a range of developmental disabilities in children.
1- Social Interactions- minimal or inappropriate social interactions where child fails to develop friendships or fails to share joy with other children. Lack of social reciprocal response with poor facial expressions.
2- Interests and Behavior- repetitive and restricted interests and behavior and lack of common sense. Problem with reading, mathematics and writing skills. Odd behaviors and mannerisms.
3- Speech and Language- Unlike other autism spectrum disorders, children with Asperger’s syndrome acquire language skills without delay but they manifest abnormalities like abrupt transitions, repetitive & scripted robotic speech, unusually idiosyncratic speech.
Treatment- There is no fixed line of treatment for Asperger’s syndrome because signs and symptoms are different from child to child.
The therapy should be focused at improving symptoms and function.
The mainstay of management is behavioral therapy, others are social skills training, language therapy, parent education and training, psychotherapy. Most children improve as they grow to adulthood but social and communication difficulties may continue in adulthood. Anti-psychotic medications may help along with other therapies.